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The $8 billion Church Pension Fund based in New York City has roped in Eric Mason(ex-Carlyle Group), to open a new Hong Kong office, its first in Asia, reports Dow Jones.

Mason is a former JP Morgan banker and most recently headed Carlyle Group's Asian leveraged finance team(set-up in 2007 but disbanded in November 2008 after the credit crunch hampered its ability to raise funds). He will look after all asset classes including private equity, real estate and hedge fund investments in the continent, the report said.

Church Pension Fund, which has invested in some Asian PE funds including Future Group backed Indivision India, has been eyeing overseas private equity investments over the last two decades. Besides Indivision, Church Pension Fund has invested in some other Asian PE firms that includes Advantage Partners and IDG Accel China.

Church Pension Fund’s direct presence in Asia follows similar moves by other international endowment and pension funds(who tend to buy into other funds) including The Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board, which opened a Hong Kong office last year.

Established in 1914 for retired or disabled clergy, Church Pension Fund's portfolio had dropped 18.8% in 2008, even though its chief executive maintained that the fund's reserves are sound.

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